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"Clearly Vicious as a Matter of Policy": The Fight Against Federal-Aid
PART THREE: To Control The Levers (Page 6 of 6)
National Interregional Highway Committee
For all the urgency of the growing crisis during 1941, the President was concerned about the potential for a return of the Depression when the war-time economy ended. He wanted a program on the shelf for the workers who were then needed in the growing defense program. To that end, apparently at the suggestion of MacDonald and Carmody, the President appointed a National Interregional Highway Committee on April 14, 1941, to investigate the need for a limited system of national highways, advise the Federal Works Administrator on the desirable character of such improvements, and the possibility of using ex-soldiers and industrial capacity in the development of the new system. The committee would build on the ideas in the 1939 report to Congress, Toll Roads and Free Roads, which had endorsed the idea of a toll-free network of express highways.
After considering several options, the committee agreed on an expanded Interregional Highway System of about 39,000 miles. The report's maps depicted a 33,920-mile network that included 29,450 miles of rural highways plus 2,123 miles carrying the rural highways into and through the municipal limits of cities of 10,000 or more population and 2,347 miles within the limits of cities of less than 10,000 population. In addition, the report reserved up to 5,000 miles for circumferential arterials. The report stated that, "although in miles it represents scarcely over 1 percent of the entire highway and street system, it will probably serve not less than 20 percent of the total street and highway traffic." The committee recommended that the Interregional Highway System be designed to accommodate the traffic "which will exist 20 years from the date of construction."
Although the committee's report had been largely completed in November 1941, final revisions were delayed several years because the jobs the program would create would not be needed during the war.
In the absence of consensus, Congress put off action on the post-war program and passed, instead, the Federal-Aid Highway Amendment Act of 1943, approved July 13, 1943, as a holding action to continue the existing program for another year with some modifications to address wartime needs. The delay in passage of comprehensive post-war legislation was especially distressing because all parties agreed on the importance of having construction plans ready to go to avoid a Depression after the war. That would not be possible until Congress approved the construction program.
In addition, though, the 1943 legislation required the Commissioner of Public Roads to report to Congress on the need for an express highway network (i.e., submit the report completed in 1941). On January 12, 1944, President Roosevelt transmitted Interregional Highways to Congress. His transmittal letter stated:
Early action by the Congress in authorizing joint designation by the Federal Government and the several State highway departments of a national system of interregional highways is desirable...
The President also summarized the advantages of such a system:
[The] program can serve not only to help meet the Nation's highway transportation needs, but also as a means of utilizing productively during the post-war readjustment period a substantial share of the manpower and industrial capacity then available. A program of highway construction will, in addition, encourage and support the many diverse economic activities dependent upon highway transportation.
The debate in Congress on the post-war highway program continued through the year. The final bill authorized $500 million for 3 years. It retained the 50-50 Federal-State matching ratio, but authorized the use of Federal-aid funds for up to one-third of the cost of acquiring rights-of-way. Funds were earmarked for the Federal-aid system, the secondary routes, and extensions of the Federal-aid system in urban areas. The program would begin as soon as the war was over.
Throughout the Senate debates in 1944, the original name, the "National System of Interregional Highways," had been used. However, when the conference committee met in December, the Senate yielded to the House regarding the name of the network. Section 7 read:
There shall be designated within the continental United States a National System of Interstate Highways not exceeding forty thousand miles in total extent so located as to connect by routes, as direct as practicable, the principal metropolitan areas, cities, and industrial centers, to serve the national defense, and to connect at suitable border points with routes of continental importance in the Dominion of Canada and the Republic of Mexico. The routes of the National System of Interstate Highways shall be selected by joint action of the State highway departments of each State and the adjoining States, as provided by the Federal Highway Act of November 9, 1921, for the selection of the Federal-aid system. All highways or routes included in the National System of Interstate Highways as finally approved, if not already included in the Federal-aid highway system, shall be added to said system without regard to any mileage limitation.
In that one paragraph, Congress set the Interstate Highway Program in motion. It did not authorize special funding for the new system, although funds authorized for the Federal-aid system and its urban extensions could be used on Interstate routes if the State highway agency wished to do so. The Federal-State matching ratio would be the same as for other projects: 50-50. As Chairman J. W. Robinson (D-Ut.) of the House Committee on Roads explained to AASHO:
Because of variation in conditions among the States no attempt was made to specify what portion of available funds should be applied to the Interstate System.
President Roosevelt signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944 on December 20. He issued a statement that said, in part:
Adequate facilities for highway communication will be essential in the future as a part of an expanding, prosperous economy that will insure jobs. They will be essential also to the national defense, as well as to the safe and efficient transportation service which belong to America's way of living.
This legislation makes possible the advance planning of the needed facilities on a sound basis. Now it becomes a challenge to the States, counties and cities which must originate the specific projects and get the program ready for construction after the war ends.
The European phase of World War II ended on May 8, 1945. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945. On October 2, Congress found, by concurrent resolution, that the war emergency had been relieved and that the highway construction program authorized by the 1944 Act could get underway. Wartime restrictions on the program were ended.
The Interstate Program Falters
The PRA worked with AASHO's Special Committee on Planning and Design Policies to develop standards for the location and design of Interstate highways. The PRA's annual report explained that the policies were developed without any thought "that every mile of the system be built according to a rigid pattern but it was believed essential that there be a high degree of uniformity where conditions as to traffic, population density, topography, and other factors are similar."207a The standards, adopted by AASHO on August 1, 1945, and concurred in by the PRA, called for the Interstate System to be designed for the mix of traffic expected 20 years from the date of construction, with full control of access where State law permitted it (frontage roads would be used where access control was prohibited). Grade separation would replace at-grade intersections except on low-volume roads, and then only if justified by economic analysis. Similarly, railroad crossings would be on structures, but on low-volume crossings (five or fewer regular train movements a day), an economic justification would be needed for separation. Two-lane Interstate sections would be permitted on lightly traveled rural segments; capacity would be increased by providing sufficient sight distance for passing.
The standards were criticized by some because they were not comparable to the "superhighway" standards used on parkways and turnpikes. However, the PRA and the AASHO committee operated on the assumption that even for the Interstate System, design should be based on the highest standards commensurate with traffic needs.207b
Efforts to identify routes for the Interstate System continued well into 1947, as the PRA worked with the States and defense officials to identify the network and resolve disputes about connections at State borders. On August 2, 1947, Administrator Fleming announced the first designations. The routes included 37,681 miles of the Nation's principal highways, including 2,882 miles of urban thoroughfares, mainly routes carrying the Interstates through cities on the main traffic artery. The routes were assigned neither names nor numbers; they were simply black lines on a white map showing State outlines and the names of major cities. To fill out the 40,000-mile Interstate System, the PRA had reserved 2,319 miles for additional urban circumferential and distributing routes that would be designated later.
An August 3 news release providing information on the previous day's designations explained the funding situation:
The sum of $225,000,000 was set aside from the authorized annual appropriations for improvement of highways in the regular Federal-aid system; $125,000,000 was made available for urban sections of the system only, including expressways, circumferential and distribution routes; and $150,000,000 was earmarked for State systems of secondary roads.
No specific sum was provided for development of the national interstate system; however, since the system is made a part of the Federal-aid system, the amounts provided for this system are available for the interstate system... In most States half of the cost of Federal-aid projects and up to one-third of the cost of right-of-way may be financed by the Federal Government. The exceptions are States containing large areas of land in the public domain where a higher rate of Federal participation is permitted.
The September 1947 issue of Better Roads featured a survey of State highway officials regarding their plans for System construction. Several States planned to give high priority to the Interstate System. J. W. Vickrey of the California Division of Highways, said, "This will to a considerable extent concentrate rather large expenditures on the interstate system, and will insure its early completion." W. A. McWilliams, Chief Engineer of the Delaware State Highway Department considered the Interstate System "a forward step in the development of automotive transportation." Dewitt C. Greer, State Highway Engineer of Texas, believed the Interstate System would lead to better planning of main arterial routes than would have been possible.
Other States took a different approach. Better Roads quoted Massachusetts' Chief Engineer P. H. Kitfield as saying:
We do not propose to give any special priority to projects on the interstate highway system... The priority of projects will be determined, as heretofore, on the basis of need and the relative inadequacy of the existing highways. However, it is probable that any program of projects selected in this manner will normally include a proportion of projects on the interstate system.
Nebraska's Chief Highway Engineer, F. H. Klietsch, was pessimistic about the prospects:
There is no special program for the construction of the roads included in the national system of interstate highways. These roads must await their turn in the construction lineup, like all other parts of the primary road system.
Other States simply had higher priorities. Iowa's Fred R. White, whose recollections were quoted earlier, did not think inclusion of a road in the Interstate System gave that road "any priority of improvement over any other part of the primary road system." Virginia's view was similar. Burton Marye, Jr., of the Virginia Department of Highways thought that, "Such high priority as is received by links in the system will and would have resulted because of the importance of the roads in the state system, regardless of any interstate designation."
Vermont's priority was providing hard surfaces on the State's 438 miles of gravel roads. Similarly, Wisconsin was concentrating on "prosaic grading, draining and surface work" on State roads that were little more than dirt roads. North Carolina was also emphasizing improvement of secondary roads, although State Highway Engineer W. Vance Baise thought "the pendulum will swing in the opposite direction within the near future."
The design standards and the 50-50 matching ratio were issues in some States. Chief Engineer R. A. Harris of Mississippi pointed out that because of the lack of traffic congestion in his State, compared with the more highly populated States, application of the design standards to Mississippi's highways would "greatly over-design our expected traffic requirements." To justify such an expenditure, he would need a higher Federal share in the cost. The Iowa State Highway Commission issued a statement that put the design issue in these terms:
It would be foolish to put Size 12 shoes on a 10-year-old boy. It would be equally foolish to build a four-lane road or divided-lane road on a route where an ordinary two-lane road is sufficient to carry the traffic.
Montana's H. W. Holmes called for a 75- to 80-percent Federal share because the design standards for the Interstate System were higher than for the primary system. The States, he felt, "should not be called on to participate in the part of the cost reflecting higher standards." North Carolina's Baise said much the same thing, adding that his State would proceed with some Interstate sections where the old roads were not adequate. The State would follow the new Interstate System standards "except where we have considerable value in the old pavement and following the standards would require complete relocation."
New York had the opposite problem. Superintendent of Public Works Charles H. Sells explained that the Federal-aid funding allocated to New York "is so small in comparison with our traffic needs that, although helpful, the rate of expenditure contemplated cannot possibly keep pace with the demands." The State was, therefore, developing what was then a 486-mile New York State Thruway System with State funds. The entire system was not, at that time, considered to be part of the Interstate System, although it was parallel to some parts of it. Sells noted, however, that:
In all probability it will meet the travel demands on sections of the national system it parallels, thereby reducing the need of construction on the national system.208
The Post-War Boom
With the National System of Interstate Highways as the centerpiece, the highway community finally seemed ready to make the progress that had been expected since World War II. When President Roosevelt had signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944, it was seen as a way of helping to avoid a return of the Depression, but soon after the war, fears of a new Depression were seen to be unfounded.
After a period of disruption as the economy switched to peacetime activities, an unexpected economic boom began. It not only defied expectations but created greater demands than ever on the Nation's highways, which were worn out from service during the war. Seely described the situation:
Auto makers could not convert from wartime production quickly enough to meet demand for its new civilian models, selling a record 3,909,270 units between 1945 and 1949. Every year from 1946 until 1952 produced a record number of vehicle-miles; just the increase of 87 billion between 1947 and 1950 was equal to the total number of vehicle-miles in 1923. In the 1951 annual report the BPR announced, "We are being overwhelmed by a flood of traffic."209
From 1946 through 1950, all highway expenditures equaled $8.4 billion, which historian Mark Rose pointed out is more than during any previous 5-year period in history. He added, however, that the achievement was misleading:
[R]ising prices consumed a good part of the additional outlay. Costs for many construction items zoomed above prewar levels, and went even higher for the unusually expensive parts necessary for urban expressways. Heightened construction standards such as wider radius curves and thicker and wider pavements, all needed to provide safe highways for heavier and faster cars and trucks, added to costs.210
Seely expanded on this problem:
From 1945 through 1949, American highway construction budgets jumped from $1.43 billion to $3.69 billion, yet the BPR estimated the larger sum bought fewer miles of finished highways. Both material costs and labor expenses almost doubled; steel and cement were in short supply at any price. Many highway departments delayed construction; others were outbid in efforts to attract the engineers to plan, design, and superintend ambitious post-war projects.211
With the States unable to use their Federal-aid highway funds at the expected pace, more than $500 million went unspent in the post-war years through 1947.
President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953), the Vice President who became President following Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945, and his advisors agreed with Roosevelt that the highway program could be a tool for managing the economy through the initial dislocation of the post-war years and the later post-war boom. While giving priority to housing programs, the Truman Administration reduced other public works projects in an effort to control inflation. In 1948, for example, as Congress considered reauthorizing the Federal-aid highway program, Truman sided with his economic advisors who considered the program inflationary and wanted to constrain it. He acknowledged:
By any reasonable standard our highways are inadequate for today's standards. Further demands will inevitably be greater as business traffic continues to expand, as our population grows, and as we build roads to reach needed resources now relatively inaccessible. Further, we must reconstruct important stretches of road which were not built to carry heavy traffic safety and at reasonable speed.
Construction of the needed highways "will require continuous effort over a long period of time and on an extensive scale." That said, he added:
For the immediate future, we must limit expenditures to avoid excessive costs resulting from over-taxing the capacity of the construction industry and to avoid inflationary pressure on the national economy.
Modernizing the highways could continue where "present obsolescence results in excessive safety hazards and wasteful maintenance costs and where present traffic capacity is most seriously inadequate." Beyond these priority needs, he recommended that Congress enact legislation for FYs 1950 and 1951 at an annual rate of $500 million for the Federal-aid highway program, plus $71 million for roads on public lands.212 With $700 million in funds from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944 not yet used, an authorization for FY 1949 was not needed.
In developing the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1948, the House approved a bill authorizing $500 million a year for FYs 1950, 1951, and 1952 for the Federal-aid highway program and additional funding for park and forest road projects. The Senate Committee on Public Works approved a bill authorizing $400 million a year, with special emphasis given to the Interstate System by increasing the Federal share to 60 percent for Interstate projects.
Conferees compromised on the amount of funding for the Federal-aid highway program, agreeing to $450 million a year for FY 1950 and 1951, along with $20 million a year for forest highways and $17.5 million for forest development roads. The conferees dropped the Senate provision increasing the Federal share for Interstate projects, but included a provision calling on the Commissioner of Public Roads to work with the Secretary of Defense and National Security Resources Board to supplement the 1941 report Highways for the National Defense and report to Congress on his findings. President Truman signed the legislation on June 29, 1948.
In the absence of a special funding program reflecting national priority, progress on the Interstate System was slow. The PRA's annual report for 1948, the first following designation of the initial 37,700 miles, indicated that of the funds authorized in 1944 for use on the Federal-aid primary system, slightly more than 30 percent had been applied to routes on the Interstate System. Projects spanned 2,052 miles of highway, 704 bridges, and 95 grade-crossing elimination structures.213 The 1949 report indicated that 22 percent of the funds authorized in the Federal-Aid Highway Acts of 1944 and 1948 had been used for the Interstate System. Work included improvement of 2,917 miles of the Interstate System and 981 bridges, as well as elimination of 120 railroad grade crossings. The total of 2,917 miles equaled 8 percent of the total System mileage.214
By 1950, the highway community finally appeared ready for the challenge of addressing the deficiencies of the Nation's highway network. Material shortages had lessened. Labor was available. The economy continued to boom. The Nation's motorists were ready.
In addition, Congress had the report requested in the 1948 Act. In Highway Needs of the National Defense, the PRA laid out a program for advancing work on the Interstate System. The report began with a detailed inventory of the Interstate System and a measure of the traffic using each section. The assumption was that the Interstate System consisted of the existing roads, mostly U.S. numbered highways, in the designated corridors and that they were to be upgraded to Interstate standards. The most serious deficiency uncovered by the study was the lack of capacity on the Interstate System for the increasing number of motor vehicles. Further, the surveys demonstrated that many sections would have to be relocated to meet the design speed, sight distance, and gradient requirements.
Based on the surveys, the PRA estimated that an investment of $11.3 billion, at 1948 prices, would be needed to bring the Interstate System up to an acceptable standard - to handle 1948 traffic. Approximately $5.3 billion of this amount (47 percent) was for improvement of urban segments. This need could be met over a 20-year period with an annual investment of at least $500 million for the Interstate System. A substantially more rapid improvement would be needed to meet the needs of national defense.
The estimate was flawed in several ways. It did not include the 2,300 miles of urban auxiliary routes not yet designated. Further, although the PRA believed that estimates of need should be based on service to traffic of the future, making such forecasts "has been impracticable," so the estimate was based on serving existing traffic rather than the increasing traffic volumes sure to come.
Another major flaw was the PRA's assumption that a large part of the Interstate System could be built by reconstructing or widening existing highways. This assumption was consistent with the PRA's longstanding concept of stage construction where each project retained the value invested in earlier projects on the same segment. Assuming the existing road would be upgraded reduced the estimated cost, but proved unrealistic, in part, because or poor location or development along many existing highways made upgrading the routes to Interstate standards impractical.
Highway Needs of the National Defense recommended several steps to accelerate the Interstate program. An increased Federal share beyond the normal 50 percent "would seem appropriate." In addition:
Funds so authorized should be apportioned among the States in such proportions as to permit substantially equal progress in the correction of existing deficiencies in all States. Consideration should be given to authorizing funds specifically for the Interstate System.
Innovative financing could also help accelerate construction. The report suggested that Congress allow the States to borrow capital to complete their sections of the Interstate System and use future Federal-aid apportionments to repay the borrowed amounts.
President Truman transmitted the report to Congress on June 30, 1949, with a perfunctory four-paragraph letter, ending with a lukewarm endorsement:
This report is a useful document. I recommend it to the consideration of the Congress in connection with such further provision as may be made for the continuance of Federal-aid for highway construction.215
The President was a bit more enthusiastic in his budget message to Congress on January 9, 1950. He recommended an annual authorization of $500 million for the Federal-aid highway program, an increase of $50 million above current levels, saying:
[Major] development of our highway system is required to overcome obsolescence and to handle safely and efficiently the steadily increasing traffic loads...
With that amount, the President recommended increased emphasis "upon the Interstate Highway System, a limited network of routes which is of greatest national importance to peacetime traffic needs as well as to our national defense." Although he did not offer details, the recommended shift of emphasis "should permit a satisfactory rate of improvement for this System."216
When Congress opened consideration of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1950, the House began with a modified version of a bill developed by AASHO in November 1949. The AASHO bill proposed an increase in spending on every Federal-aid system, with $210 million earmarked for the Interstate System and a Federal share of 75 percent for Interstate projects.
Congress received opposing views. Even the State highway agencies were not uniformly behind AASHO's bill. Under the leadership of Pennsylvania, the Association of Highway Officials of the North Atlantic States adopted a resolution opposing an increase in Federal-aid, earmarking of funds for particular Federal-aid systems, and an increase in Federal share. Such an increase was seen as a step toward more Federal control and intervention in State affairs.
The National Highway Users Conference, which represented trucking, manufacturing, and oil companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also opposed an increase in the Federal share. A shift in Federal share, the conference claimed, would move the road program toward "the left fork... of nationalized highways." Pretty soon, projects would be chosen at the national level based on "political pressures" instead of "local needs."
The House began the debate by considering a bill that, as Rose put it, went "a good distance in divergent directions." The bill that emerged from the House Public Works Committee called for apportionment of $70 million by population for the Interstate System, a 75-25 matching ratio for Interstate projects, but increased funding for secondary roads. The bill also included a provision, based on Highway Needs of the National Defense, allowing the State highway agencies to use future Interstate apportionments to repay loans incurred to finance toll-free Interstate projects. On May 19, the House approved the bill.
On May 31, Commissioner MacDonald testified before the Senate Committee on Public Works in support of the President's request for $500 million, with $50 million earmarked for the Interstate System. He stressed that the Nation was not keeping up with the demand, particularly on the Interstate System. He reminded the committee that Highways Needs for the National Defense had estimated that deficient sections of the designated mileage would cost $11 billion to rehabilitate and reconstruct consistent with present-day traffic. The deficiencies were extensive:
That is, in 1948 a little under 2,000 miles in the rural areas, and 300 miles in urban areas, out of the whole mileage of 37,800 miles, were found to be adequate for the traffic. The remaining mileage is deficient in different respects, but the deficiencies we consider to be of greatest importance are in the widths of these roads and bridges.
We feel that in view of the relationship of highways to the national defense that we must give very considerable attention to the rehabilitation of this main-road system.
Special funding for the Interstate System appeared close to reality. However, as the Senate was considering the highway bill, international events were unfolding that would put the Interstate System on hold.
On June 24, 1950, while spending a weekend at home in Independence, Missouri, President Truman received word that North Korea had invaded South Korea. Within a month, the northern Communists occupied most of the Korean peninsula. President Truman ordered American troops to join with forces that the United Nations Security Council had sent to the Korean Peninsula. An advance battalion under Major General William F. Dean landed in Pusan on July 1.
In reaction to the emergency, President Truman asked Congress on August 17 to hold down nondefense expenditures to avoid competition with defense needs. He asked that Federal-aid highway funds be held to $500 million at most and that Federal-aid to retire bonds, which would have increased road building, should be discouraged to conserve people and materials.
Rose summarized the response in the Senate:
On August 22, members of the Senate, for whatever reason, voted to lower spending in every category of road aid. Elimination of the special authorization for the Interstate, on the grounds that funding for it was available from other network funds, produced much of the savings.
House-Senate conferees agreed to the $500 million spending level requested by the President, but with no funds earmarked for the Interstate System. They retained the 50-50 matching share for Interstate projects. Of the amount authorized for the Federal-aid highway program, 45 percent was for the Federal-aid primary system (which included the Interstate System), 30 percent was for the secondary system, and 25 percent was for the urban system.
The provision allowing the States to apply future Federal-aid apportionments to retirement of the principal of bonds used to improve Federal-aid primary routes, including the Interstate System, was retained, but proved ineffective. As explained in America's Highways 1776-1976:
[This] authority did not make any new money available to the States or enhance their credit or change their own constitutional debt limits; and further, Congress carefully disclaimed any obligation to provide the future Federal-aid funds that might be used to redeem the bonds. Consequently, only a few States availed themselves of the privilege, and these for comparatively small amounts.217
President Truman signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1950 on September 7.
The mood of the highway community was perhaps best summed up in an editorial in the October 1950 issue of AASHO's American Highways:
Our peacetime economy is built around highway transportation; in war, our very survival depends upon it. And yet, the people have not been made to understand these facts. Why? Where have we failed?
What made the situation particularly frustrating was that the highway community had become splintered by special interests during the 1940s. Perhaps the problem was inevitable given the extent of the Nation's diverse road needs and perspectives. In November 1949, Fortune magazine summarized this aspect of the issue:
Part of the trouble is that the U.S. has so much highway - 3,300,000 miles in all - that it is possible to point to a few roads, or indeed many thousand miles of road, and prove almost anything that strikes your fancy: that heavy trucks are raising hell with our highways, that they are doing no such thing, that the highways of America are an incomparable engineering achievement, that whole regiments of state highway engineers should be indicted for malfeasance in office.218
The States could not wait for the PRA and the Congress to figure out how to keep up with the economic boom and the continuing increase in driving. They had a model in the highly successful Pennsylvania Turnpike, the first 160-mile section of which had opened on October 1, 1940. It had been an immediate sensation - a "magic carpet ride" unlike anything most motorists had experienced. More important, before and after the war, it had been a financial success. With Federal-aid highway funds insufficient for toll-free construction of similar highways, the States followed Pennsylvania's example. The Maine Turnpike opened in 1947. Turnpikes opened in New Hampshire (1950), Colorado (1952), New Jersey (1952), Oklahoma (1953), New York (1954), and West Virginia (1954), while toll authorities were established in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia.219
Most of the turnpikes were in the heavily traveled Interstate corridors that Toll Roads and Free Roads had predicted would be most likely to support toll facilities. But the boom was beyond anything imagined in BPR's 1939 report.
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- b) Barnett, Joseph, "Our Interstate Highway System," Civil Engineering, July 1955, p. 40.
- Construction of the New York State Thruway began in 1946, with the State intending to build toll-free segments as State funds became available. Because progress was slow, legislation was enacted in 1950 to create the New York State Thruway Authority, headed by Bertram Tallamy, to issue bonds to finance a faster pace of construction. Initially, the collection of tolls to repay the bonds was rejected as impractical; the authority planned to raise revenue from the sale of special license plates for thruway use, with the fee varying based on the benefit a user would derive (for example, a trucker would pay a higher fee than the operator of a passenger vehicle). Subsequently, the authority switched to toll collection to repay bondholders. In 1953, the authority repaid the $26 million in State funds committed to the thruway before the authorization to issue bonds. The first 115-mile section opened in July 1954.
- Seely, p. 193.
- Rose, Mark H., Interstate Express Highway Politics 1939-1989 (Revised Edition), The University of Tennessee Press, 1990, p. 31.
- Seely, p. 195.
- Truman, Harry S., "Special Message to the Congress on Highway Construction," Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Government Printing Office, February 9, 1948, 1964, p. 132. For information on President Truman's road policy, see Weingroff, Richard F., "The Man Who Loved Roads," Public Roads, May/June 2002, p. 37 (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/02may/08.cfm), and Yago, John W., "Harry S. Truman: The ARTBA Member Who Became U.S. President," Transportation Builder, October 2002, p. 8.
- Work of the Public Roads Administration 1948, Annual Report for the Fiscal Year 1948, Public Roads Administration, Federal Works Agency, p. 7.
- Work of the Public Roads Administration, Annual Report for the Fiscal Year 1949, Public Roads Administration, Federal Works Agency, p. p.
- Message from the President of the United States, Highway Needs of the National Defense, Committee on Public Works, 81st Congress, 1st Session, House Document No. 249, Government Printing Office, 1949, p. III
- Annual Budget Message to the Congress: 1951, January 3, 1950, Government Printing Office, p. M71-72.
- America's Highways 1776-1976, p. 165.
- "Enter the Road Builders," Fortune, November 1949, p. 107.
- America's Highways 1776-1976, p. 167-168.